About 2400 journalists are working in TV and radio stations, with only 526 female journalists
A new study reveals that female participation in broadcast media outlets is abysmally low, at only 25 percent.
The study was conducted with a sample size of 365 journalists by the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), a non-profit organization established with the mission of promoting and defending human rights as well as building democratic governance in Ethiopia.
The study’s findings were revealed at an event held at the Mado Hotel on February 22, 2023, in the presence of researchers, human rights activists, civil society organizations, and journalists. It was revealed that there are currently 2400 journalists working in electronic media outlets (TV and radio stations), with only 526 female journalists.
Attendees at the event asked the study’s author, Mulatu Alemayehu (PhD), a lecturer at the school of journalism and a researcher specializing in media and communications, whether the study looked into the reasons for the underrepresentation of female journalists in the expanding digital media landscape.
“We only looked at the figure, while the scope of the study did not include determining the cause of the gender imbalance in electronic media,” Mulatu explained.
There are 287 editors in the electronic media who lead newsrooms and oversee journalists’ daily activities. Only 80 of these editors are female, uncovering yet another underrepresentation.
The Reporter contacted the Ethiopian Media Women Association (EMWA), but the organization stated that it is unable to explain why there are so few female journalists in the electronic media.
“We don’t have any studies conducted on the low representation of women in electronic media. So I can’t say anything,” said Rahel Zewdu, board chairperson of EMWA, an organization founded to increase women’s participation in media and fight for the rights of female journalists in the industry, among other things.
Members of the Association, on the other hand, have their own explanations for the gender imbalance.
“Women journalists are usually assigned to do beats with low relevance for the public, pushing many to exit the sector. This is on top of sexual abuse and family obligations that come with giving birth,” said a female journalist who works for one of the country’s media outlets and is a member of the Association.
The gender imbalance, according to Tibebu Belete, president of the Ethiopian Mass-Media Professional Association, begins at universities, which he sees as part of the problem.
“The gender balance at universities should be analyzed, and measures have to be taken to bring about a change. Furthermore, there is a reluctance among media outlets to hire women because of the maternal leave they may take if they become pregnant or start a family,” he said.
Female representation is higher in community radio stations, according to a CARD study. There are 117 women journalists and 132 men journalists in these media outlets.